Little Magic: Stash-building sustainably

Alicia de los Reyes
3 min readMar 22, 2022
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

When I started writing about sewing my own pants, the pandemic was still just a distant problem overseas. I had no idea that sewing would become an obsession-slash-lifeline for me over the next two years— that every weekend, after my husband shut down his computer in the office, I would unleash my pent-up creative energy.

Makers include people of all political and social backgrounds, but one thing unites us: our “stash.” What’s a stash, you ask? It’s your collection of raw materials — your fiber of choice, from fabric and thread to yarn and needles or hooks. I find that my stash expands to fill the space allotted to it.

Many makers are conscious of the environmental impact our stashes can have. Zoe Edwards, creator of the popular challenge “Me Made May” and author of the sewing blog “So, Zo, What do you know?” recently launched a podcast all about sewing sustainably called “Check Your Thread.” And numerous supply resale shops, both online and brick-and-mortar, have popped up in the past few months. Now more than ever, there are many ways to find materials for a more sustainable stash.

Sourcing fabric sustainably is especially important for garment makers or sewists, as the waste we create when cutting out a pattern from a few yards of fabric is often much larger than the waste created in an industrial cutting operation, where pattern pieces can be placed more efficiently. Here are a few places to buy fabric that would otherwise go to a landfill:

  • Swanson’s Fabric: “The fabric store of our collective dreams,” this resale fabric shop sells all fabric for $4 a yard. The fabric is culled from other sewists’ stashes and is available online and in their store in Turner’s Falls, MA.
  • Make & Mend: An online shop based in Somerville, MA, Make & Mend sells fabric, yarn, patterns, and all manner of art supplies for a fraction of their original price. (This shop was my go-to in the dark days of the pandemic — their supply drops on Wednesday nights were something to look forward to!)
  • Destashify is an app launching soon that will work like DePop or Poshmark, only for fabric and other supplies.
  • FABSCRAP is an online shop and warehouse in Brooklyn, NY, that sells fabrics sourced from designers and clothing manufacturers…